Uganda has discovered Oil in the Albertine Graben which is also an area of national and international importance in terms of its outstanding biodiversity and network of protected areas. This presents a socio- economic opportunity for the country but also an environmental challenge.
The environmental challenge is the management of impacts associated with the oil and gas industry like oil spill, fires, waste management, contamination of the environment. Therefore, there is a potential risk to adversely impact on areas of ecological importance located within the Graben like national game parks, forests and water bodies including international water bodies the Lake Albert and the Nile River.
Uganda has taken deliberate actions to ensure that the impacts are mitigated, and these actions include:
- Setting up of institutions to regulate the industry like the Petroleum Authority of Uganda
- Enacting of new laws like the Petroleum Acts to regulate the upstream and midstream operations.
- Amending existing laws like the National Environmental Act and Wildlife Act to include provisions for oil and gas operations.
- Developing the National Oil Spill Contingency Plan, under the Office of the Prime Minster, to provide a timely, coordinated response, to major oil spill.
As UNOC we have also put in place safeguards to mitigate any adverse impacts and these include:
- Putting in place an Environmental Policy which is essentially a commitment of the Board and Top management to manage impacts related to UNOC’s operations. The policy is supported by several procedures and guidelines like waste management procedure, Oil spill response procedure that help mitigate the impacts.
- Instituting a risk assessments framework which ensures that prior to executing tasks and projects the risks are identified, assessed and controls put in place.
- At project level the risk assessment is embedded in the ESIA process which also allows for stakeholders to contribute to impact mitigation.
- At task level, task risk assessments are undertaken, and potential impacts identified, and controls put in place to mitigate the impacts.
- Decommissioning of the site at the end of the project is undertaken. This is an elaborate and structured process which ensures that nothing harmful to the environment is left behind and the site is restored to as nearly to its original state as is practical possible.
In addition, to putting in place the above safeguards, UNOC is committed to conducting Environmental Audits both external and internal. The Audits help in assessing the effectiveness of the safeguards which results in continual improvement.
Lastly, all the safeguards deployed are benchmarked against international standards like the IFC Environmental and Social Performance Standards, IPIECA, ISO etc